Print Сite this

Renaissance and Baroque Epochs Analysis

The course of human history and the process of the development of human society may be schematically represented as the stairs, where each stair is a definite historical epoch. Such stairs or stages of the development are the Renaissance and Baroque. If the reasons for choice of these particular epochs are necessary, then it should be mentioned that these periods were marked by outstanding cultural and social achievements. This is why the periods may be analyzed best of all from the perspectives of art and literature. The description of the concrete features of art are necessary and useful for the comparison of the historical epochs, because it is commonly known that art is multidimensional expression of human soul, inner world, and, at the same time, the reflection of true world-view that is typical of the definite period of time. Art is the least corrupted form of expression, for it has its roots in inspiration that is embodied in visual form. However, literature of the period may also be considered as rich material for analysis of the definite epoch, because it is the expression of experience and real world with the help of words that has the same basis as art but is even more precise. In order to make comparative analysis effective, the study of art and literature should be performed in the light of philosophic ideas of the epoch.

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

First of all, it is necessary to dwell on the concepts and definitions of the epochs under analysis, because their names carry important information. The term “Renaissance” means “rebirth”, this is the rebirth of several objects. The new concept of man was created due to the new philosophy that is called “humanism”. The word “humanism” openly suggests its meaning: concentration and orientation at a human being. Thus, the philosophy is focused on the importance, value and true nature of the man in the Universe. A. Hauser (1999) stresses the “naturalism of the period” and the turn “to empirical reality”, “the discovery of the world and of man” (p.2). This discovery of a man as unique, intelligent, and beautiful creature of God aroused the necessity of new basis for life and development, as the previous historical epoch of the Middle Ages or the Dark Ages can be characterized by overall oppression of a man, his complete ignorance and fear of formidable and omnipotent God. This philosophy could not be applied in the new world, thus, society appealed to the past, to Greek culture and mythology that could be a suitable basis for the development of art, music, and literature of the Renaissance. As for the term “Baroque”, its etymology is ascribed to “the Portuguese barroco, a word that refers to pearls that are irregular in shape and inferior in quality” (Wainwright and Holman, 2005, p. 2). The term stresses the importance of form that was typical of Baroque period.

If we speak about the art of the Renaissance, it should be mentioned, that art is something like a business card of the epoch, because the artistic heritage of the renaissance is priceless and impressive. When we say “The Renaissance”, our imagination creates the association with Leonardo Da Vinci and his Vitruve Luc Viatour”. The historical epoch could boast of the magnitude and impressiveness of the art of the period. Paoletti and Radke (2005) state that “art mattered in Renaissance. Viewers expected works of art to be meaningful, purposeful, and functional, not just beautiful” (p.12). Thus, the function of art was not simplified and reduced to mere moral pleasure from observation of works of art; the pictures were aimed at the delivery of new information about the nature of a man and world around him. Hence the importance given to the physical beauty and attractiveness of a human being, that was provoked by humanism. The philosophy stated that a person should be equally beautiful physically and spiritually, that was the main law of humanism. This rule was applied by artist who resorted to the detailed portrayal of physical beauty of the characters of their paintings in order to create harmony of their inner and outer beauty. It should also be taken into account that the previous historical epoch, the Dark Ages, could be characterized by suppression of human sexuality and carnal desires. In the Renaissance these boundaries were destroyed, and it was natural that the artist appealed to the topic of love and physical relationship in their works. Besides, as it was mentioned above, the antique plots and heroes were widely used by the artists, and it is known that physical relationship was one of the main themes of the antique art. Classical sources were the main sources of the plots of paintings. Humanism also caused the increased demand for and great interest in portraits. One more reason for the demand for the artistic genre of portrait was the wide spread of patrons of artists at that time (Paoletti and Radke, 2005, p. 12).

The art of the following historical epoch, Baroque, has a lot of principal differences from the art of the Renaissance. The root of all differences lies in the functions of art of the concrete period. In comparison with the previous epoch, the art of Baroque was used to “convey concepts – primarily faith in the Church and its doctrines” (Simonis, Garwood and Hardy, 2006, p. 76). Thus, Baroque was propagandistic, and its main aim was the “appeal to the faithful that was both sensory and emotional” (Simonis, Garwood and Hardy, 2006, p. 76). The main themes of paintings were religious events and personages but they were represented from the point of view of the reality of that time. The changes were mainly caused by the Reformation. If Madonna of Da Vinci or Michelangelo was a secular character, Madonna of the Baroque was a religious symbol.

The essential feature of the art of Baroque period was its fundamental ambiguity (Simonis, Garwood and Hardy, 2006, p. 77). This was a new feature that could not be observed in the Renaissance. It was caused by the change of world-view: a man was not the core of the Universe any more; he was something between everything and nothing. People start to understand the limits of human knowledge and human ignorance. This gave way to “the bold fusion of all forms of art”, grotesque forms, movement. Though Baroque artists proclaimed that they were the descendants of the Renaissance, it is evident that they violated the norms of equilibrium, moderation, reason, logic of the Renaissance (Simonis, Garwood and Hardy, 2006, p. 77). One more feature that is characteristic of baroque is the pomposity and bizarrerie of art that can be easily explained by the fact that economic state of Italy was rather problematic at that time, if Rome was the center of Catholic world, it had to save its reputation, and prove its wealth. This is why the artists resorted to pretentiousness; they wanted to create the illusion of richness. This may be clearly observed in the works of many artists, for instance, Caravaggio and Carracci.

Speaking about the literature of the periods under consideration, it should be mentioned that the same rules and regularities that could be observed in art may be seen in literature. The interpretation of classical antique themes may be observed in the literary works of the period. The Renaissance was “the Golden Age” of poetry, this may be proved by the example of Francesco Petrarch, one of the most outstanding representatives of the epoch. The main themes of his poetry were love and beauty. Besides, comic genres developed during the period, the picturesque example may be “Don Kichotas” by M. Cervantes. The work presents optimistic criticism of the past and present.

However, the literature of Baroque is fundamentally different from that of the Renaissance. Pomposity could be observed again in the poetry of Baroque. Mild criticism makes way for satire that expresses bitterness of the limits of human knowledge. The obscurity and awkwardness of the form was sometimes caused by the burning desire of the writers to sum up and synthesize the whole amount of knowledge about the world, which was impossible for them. The fact that the world-view of the Renaissance failed, caused frequent resorting of the Baroque authors to the theme of dream, darkness, and uncertainty. This may be illustrated by the example of Pedro Calderon’s play “Life is a Dream”.

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More

In conclusion, it should be stated that the historical epochs of the Renaissance and Baroque appeared to be the reflections of the social, philosophic, and economical situation in society of the periods. Comparative study of the epochs makes our understanding of each epoch deeper, because they were connected like the links of one chain. The epoch of Baroque made use of cultural heritage of the Renaissance that was a perfect basis for the further development of art and literature. However, the epochs have a lot of principal differences, which create the food for refection and prove the usefulness of the usage of historical perspective in the analysis of art and literature.


Hauser, A. (1999). The Social History of Art: Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque. NY: Routledge.

Paoletti, J.T., and Radke G.M. (2005). Art in Renaissance Italy. London: Laurence King Publishing.

Simonis, D., Garwood, D., and Hardy P. (2006). Italy. Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet.

Wainwright, J., and Holman P. (2005). From Renaissance to Baroque: Change in Instruments and Instrumental Music in the Seventeenth Century. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Cite this paper

Select style


StudyCorgi. (2021, November 5). Renaissance and Baroque Epochs Analysis. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, November 5). Renaissance and Baroque Epochs Analysis.

Work Cited

"Renaissance and Baroque Epochs Analysis." StudyCorgi, 5 Nov. 2021,

* Hyperlink the URL after pasting it to your document

1. StudyCorgi. "Renaissance and Baroque Epochs Analysis." November 5, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Renaissance and Baroque Epochs Analysis." November 5, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Renaissance and Baroque Epochs Analysis." November 5, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Renaissance and Baroque Epochs Analysis'. 5 November.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.